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How to Turn your Good Video into a Great Video

by Tyler

Lights, Camera, Action!

Are you interested in making videos? Have you already made a video or short film about something personal or business related? If so, you’ve probably thought something like “how do I make the video quality better?” or more simply “how do I make a good video?” 

Filmmaking is a challenging process to wrap your head around. It’s like writing, but in the 10th dimension. It’s far more complicated than pressing pen to paper, or key to board, and it has multiple levels of complex processes. Luckily, it’s gotten a lot easier to make movies in recent years as smartphones have progressed to ultra HD file output, high quality optically stabilized lenses, sensors, effective slow motion, and timelapse features. Video editing has also become a lot easier and now you can use things like the Ken Burns effect with a single click!

But the fact remains: making good videos is more about the idea, and how you use the tools at your disposal to create that idea. Here are 5 concepts to keep in mind as you make your next video.

Composition In Video

Composition is the art of organizing the elements that are in the view of your camera. It pays to know the best way to compose the elements in your video clips. Understanding quality composition is a simple and effective way to improve your ability to capture the shot and it’s comprised of a few simple truths. 

Rules of composition 

The white lines overlaid on this CBD kif stash represent the rule of thirds. Use them to guide your composition. Position your camera so that subjects are aligned with the intersections on your screen.

The Rule Of Thirds – Overlaid on all phone cameras these days, it is the simplest rule to follow and often the most overlooked. When using a smartphone there is a grid overlaid on your screen that splits it into thirds. To follow the rule of thirds put your subject at the intersection of these lines, or along them. If it’s a shot of two people you’ll want to position the camera so that they will appear on the left and right thirds, with their faces balanced along the top third. For landscapes place the thing you want the viewer to look at on a point in the grid. For items that are much larger than a single point you can still use the guide to help position your camera. 

Leading Lines and Shapes – Creating shapes to frame subjects, or organize your shot immerses your viewer in the story. It’s harder than using the rule of thirds. Put simply, find the lines around you, and organize them in a way that follows the rule of thirds to frame your subject. If your set is inside your shop behind a counter then try to organize the space in a way that contributes to framing your subject.

The lines on the floor, the shelves, and the shape of the cart all guide the viewers eye towards the center of this image, and create a captivating focal point. Who knew grocery shopping could be this aesthetically pleasing!

Cropping – Probably the simplest, yet most philosophical one. At its simplest it’s making sure not to cut off someone’s arm, or film a super close up of just a face for an entire interview. But at the same time if you’re filming an interview do you really need to have the person’s entire body in the shot? It’s something you’ll need to consider on a shot to shot basis. 

Lighting Your Video

In the early days Youtube was a site similar to the classic eBaums World. Today Youtube is a MAJOR player in the media ecosystem that you can tap into for your digital marketing. Everyone from vloggers, to athletes, to chefs, to musical acts and artists is using Youtube and taking it very seriously. One of the most overlooked aspects of video production for these content creators is how much effort they put into their lighting for youtube videos.

Good lighting compliments good composition and highlights subjects by adding contrast and color and is a powerful way to immerse an audience in a story, and bring them into the fold emotionally. Quality lighting can add a lot to your shot for just a little time and money. Having a well lit subject on a smooth background, positioning the camera to capture the sunny side of an object, filming during epic light a few hours after sunrise and before sunset are a few simpler light techniques. If you’re filming in a studio it pays to invest in a good ring light, or a pair of softbox lights. Be sure to dig into each product as much as possible, find independent reviews and do not be afraid to go for amore quality solution because it will likely save you money in the long run. That being said, don’t be afraid to innovate and jerry-rig lighting! If it’s off camera it does not matter what it looks like.

Develop A Narrative

What is the story you’re trying to tell? Figuring that out can be complicated, especially when you’re creating video for marketing purposes. But let’s start with the first result  on google. “…an account of connected events; a story.” Products, services and businesses are filled with connected events; from the moment to moment daily grind, to how customers use your products, or interact with your brand, or how your brand is impacting the community, you have a lot of options! 

It’s how you use those connected events to inspire your filming that brings you to the next level. If the story is about someone using a product then it’s time to break up that narrative into a list of shots. The subject will pick up the object, and handle it somehow. From there what is the list of shots? The location, object, subject, and the subjects actions can all inspire angles, movements. 

A shot list can be a valuable tool in conveying the message of your narrative, but it can also help you determine what your message is. Shot lists can also be limiting, don’t be afraid to get other shots or put together other ideas. In conveying the narrative it pays to be very thorough in your filming. So capture additional angles, or ideas and be prepared to leave a lot of media behind when you finish your video.

Audio

Sound is a VERY powerful and often overlooked influencer of how we experience the world. Sound in video is important. It’s the difference between an interview with loud ambient noise, a large empty room, or, gasp, a fan. It’s making sure the volume equalizer in editing software is not in the red, and mostly in the green. 

If you’re going to invest in audio equipment, spend time learning ALL of the features. It will pay in the long run. Be sure to spend time testing the microphone in different situations. Are you prepared to have a loud talker and a quiet talker in same scene? Is a light breeze going to hurt the quality of your audio? The biggest thing to start with is simply considering how the audio is impacting your shot before you press record. 

Brand 

Incorporating brand in videos can be a challenge. It’s more than just putting a sign in the background (sometimes) and is hard to do when filming outside. But your brand has colors, style, and a reputation and all those things can be worked into the footage, and the audio of any video you make. Your brand has fonts, shapes, and promotes certain types of emotions in viewers. Use your brands shapes to guide composition, it’s colors to influence lighting, and it’s logo and products to inspire sets. If you’re trying to put together a talk show vlog about your shops buds, then you could set up a shelf and fill it with related items. A jar of flower, a bong, a picture frame of you cutting the red ribbon to open up your shop, an item from your favorite musician, or movie. Isolate aspects of your brand, and put them to work for you! 

Storyboard & Shot Lists

Brainstorm, list ideas, create shot lists, draw up storyboards and fill pages with them. It pays to organize and communicate before you press record, and don’t be hesitant to film a lot. Steve-o has his entire life on camera, and just because you don’t value a shot in the moment doesn’t mean you won’t see it down the line. The fact is you can’t edit footage that you never recorded. Plan, organize, and write; there is no better way to focus than by using a pen and pad. Computers have too much going on for original thoughts. Write out your narrative, list your subjects, write down ideas for lighting, ideas for shots, list out locations, write down some camera paths. Put together a plan, and be open to changing it until it feels great. Take the time to be thorough.

The Ken Burns Effect

You’ve seen it a million times. It’s as popular as the Wilhelm Scream, and possibly more overlooked. Named for the man behind the effect, the Ken Burns Effect is a method of adding motion to an otherwise static clip. If you’ve seen a documentary, you’ve seen the Ken Burns Effect. It’s created by increasing the scale and changing the position of the image on a roll of film. The end effect is often a zoom shot of a static image, but it can also be a pan, or dolly shot. This effect is becoming more and more common in movies, and as cameras can put out larger and larger formats. A newer name for the Ken Burns effect is the digital zoom, and it can be seen all over today’s documentaries and movies.

How To Use The Ken Burns Effect

In your videos you can use the effect on images, but also on video clips to place additional emphasis on your subject. If the camera is moving towards the subject you can use the Ken Burns effect to increase or decrease the speed of the movement. If you have a static shot you can use it to add a slight amount of motion and give an extra level of polish to your timelapse, landscape or other scene. The Ken Burns Effect, along with the other tips on this list can be challenging at first, but with time and practice you’ll be applying these without even thinking about them! So get out there and do it for the camera!

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